Giving Compass' Take:

• Tyina Steptoe talks with Kyle Mittan about how Juneteenth has progressed in recent years, culminating in 2020 as a centerpiece for activism.

• How has Juneteenth progressed in your life as a pivotal source of inspiration and driving motivator in the fight for justice? How are you contributing to the ongoing battle for racial justice this Juneteenth? 

• Learn more about how Juneteenth has progressed into a hard-fought campaign against mass incarceration.

More people than ever may celebrate Juneteenth this year, says historian Tyina Steptoe.

Steptoe is associate professor of history, studies race, gender, and culture in the United States at the University of Arizona. She is also a native of Houston, just miles from Galveston, and has written about Houston’s transformation into one of the country’s most diverse cities.

Steptoe talks here about how Juneteenth celebrations have evolved over time, what Juneteenth means to her, and how the Black Lives Matter movement could shape the way people mark the holiday:

Steptoe: One of the things that I find fascinating is here in the United States, as well as globally, is that right now, the particular shape that Black Lives Matter is taking has forced people to really think about the longer histories of racism that have gotten us to this moment, and not just looking at the death of George Floyd or Breonna Taylor as isolated events. People have connected Black Lives Matter today with this long history of colonization and enslavement.

Because of that, Juneteenth has taken on a special meaning this year. As I said before, Juneteenth has been a celebration. And, certainly, I think that’s going to be part of it, but because of the pandemic, the public aspect of Juneteenth celebrating can’t happen in the same way.

I think Black Lives Matter, the pandemic, all of these things converge on Juneteenth. And I think that it’s made Juneteenth this year the center of activism. National companies announcing it as a paid holiday, I think, is a reflection that Juneteenth today is part of this political moment, and so it’s become part of larger activism.

Read the full discussion about how Juneteenth has progressed with Tyina Steptoe at Futurity.